Today is a special day. I am finally learning how to say ‘thank you’ and express the gratitude you so firmly assumed I was incapable of having. Maybe by the end of this, you’ll also learn something, too – perhaps even how to be proud of me.
So from the bottom of my heart, mommy, thank you.
Thank you for the sleepless nights, the belt-buckle bruises, and the apathy.
Thank you for the hair-pulling, the nervous ticks, and the lack of ‘i love you’s’.
Where would I be without them? Who would I be if not for them?
Would I still be writing? Would I still have met all the people I met? Done all the mistakes you avoided and did? Be where I am, if not for you?
This note is kind of long so I’ll try to be quick and highlight the few big things I can remember.
Thank you for the flashbacks I still have of you berating me in front of other people. Thank you for the anxiety, and the panic attacks, and the low self-esteem, and the trust issues, and the mood swings, and the anger problems, and the lack of impulse control, and the depression, and all the mental illnesses inherited you yourself tried to dodge from grandmother. Thank you for making sure I would turn out almost exactly like you two.
Oh, before I forget, thank you, too, for pushing me down the stairs that one time you thought you caught me with a weeks-old-used cigarette in my backpack. Thank you for not believing me when I said it was before you made me quit. Thank you for teaching others, showing others how to see me, treat me, talk to me. Thank you for teaching me how to see myself.
Thank you for the resentment, the internalized guilt, and the calling me ‘worthless’. Thank you for helping make everything in my life more confusing than it had to be. This legacy of hurt and love-and-hate wouldn’t be possible had you not perpetuated the cycle.
Finally, thank you for giving birth to me and calling me daughter, even though you never really loved me like one. Even though you never raised me as one of your own. Even until now.
If there was one thing I really admired about you growing up (besides your amazing ageless genes), it was your resilience and smarts prevailing even in the face of adversity. You never let anyone treat you bad or talk you down. You respected yourself too much to allow any bully to get to you.
And now I’m finally trying to fight back against my youth’s biggest bully – you. Watch me do it without violence. Watch me do it without leaving a mark (or at least not the kind that one could see).
Aren’t you proud of me?